For the second time in this home stand, the Wings have lost a game they were leading after seven innings. In the entire season, that had only happened one other time. For the second time in the past week, Robert Korecky was downright brutal out there. Coming in with the score tied 4-4, one out and none on, Korecky proceeded to give up extra base hit after extra base hit, and before the carnage was done, the Knights had scored three more runs to grab a 7-4 lead. Knights scored five runs altogether in the fateful eighth inning.
It was a very frustrating way for a promising night to end. 11,300 fans filled the ballpark to see the marquee pitching matchup between Rochester native Tim Redding and Wing ace Mike Smith. Wings grabbed the early lead when Erubiel Durazo hit his first home run as a member of the team. Charlotte tied it, but the Wings went back in front, and when Shawn Wooten hit a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the seventh, Rochester had a 4-2 lead, and Redding's night was done. He left to a very warm standing ovation from the home crowd.
Smith tired in the eighth. After retiring the first batter, he gave up a single to the next hitter and then grooved one to Ernie Young, who hammered it far into the night and onto Plymouth Avenue, over 450 feet away. And the score was tied 4-4. It was Young's 303rd minor league home run. That left things up to young Korecky, and he was hopeless as the Knights sprayed the ball all over Frontier Field, silencing the huge crowd and sending the Wings to their second straight loss.
The loss, coupled with Scanton's win and sweep of the hapless Richmond Braves drops the Wings into a first place tie with the Red Barons. Wings had held the International League North lead for about 65 straight days.
Funny–at the beginning of this home stand I suggested that we would be doing well to split the eight games against two of the leagues better teams. The Wings indeed did split the eight games, but after winning four of the first six, there was certainly hope that perhaps they could take three of four from Charlotte. The fact that they lost two of the four games by blowing late inning leads makes splitting the home stand less than heartwarming.
It would be easy to blame Korecky for the two late inning losses. And perhaps one might say, well he's young and still learning. Well, the same could be said about Neshek, as he is young and learning. The difference? Neshek wore the closer's mantle like a finely crafted Armani Suit, while Korecky is still stuck in the fitting room.
The Wings now take to the road for eight days, beginning with a four-game series with Durham.